October, as anyone with an eye for ugly-ass-pink knows, is breast cancer awareness month. And in honor of this I’d like I propose an expansion past focusing on just the cancer to include more aspects of the breast.
For instance, breastfeeding (the breast’s actual purpose) (other than an easy way to tell whether woman is intelligent, slutty, a fast runner, or fun).
Specifically, I’d like to propose that what happens to people when they stop breastfeeding become a topic of national conversation.
I’m aware August is national breastfeeding month, and this might be a more suitable place for weaning awareness, but national breastfeeding month is simply NOT popular.
Just look at how NFL players wear pink cleats in October and in August they don’t even bother to play.
Lazy non-breastfed bastards.
I see nothing wrong with a little commandeering of breast cancer’s popularity for the sake of a better-informed public on the topic of weaning.
Personally, I knew close to nothing about breastfeeding and weaning before having a kid. It wasn’t until my late-twenties that I even thought to ask my mom if I was breastfed. And this only after hearing research findings that breastfed children scored higher on “intelligence” tests.
This was news to me and you better believe I called my mom right away to make sure she hadn’t fu@ked me over in this regard and made me dumb.
She had breastfed, for nine months.
PHEW! I knew it! I’m smart!
Considering all the smarts I have on account of being breastfed, imagine my consternation how, after two years of hands-on breastfeeding experience, extensive reading and research, long conversations with friends who have started and finished successful breastfeeding careers, and going to La Leche League meetings (imagine Alcoholics Anonymous except with discussions of cracked nipples that won’t stop leaking instead of month-long benders), I was still completely blindsided by what’s been happening to me after I night weaned my son at 21 months.
If you read my blog, you know that I thought I was pregnant last month and the reasons why (nausea, rage, people all-too-readily agreeing with me when I mention I’ve become fat, the Dropsies).
It turns out I wasn’t pregnant at all. I’d been under a lot of stress over the summer and had just night-weaned my son over the course of one week leaving me about as hormonally balanced as a bag of rubber bands.
I could deal with the psychotic-pregnancy knowing my hormones would eventually even out, I accepted it as all part of the strange package that is breastfeeding.
That is until the insomnia started.
The whole reason I went hardcore on night weaning and spent a week flashing back to newborn-dome (plus 20 pounds) rocking my son and pacing around the house every two hours in the first place was because I wanted to do a little number I like to call sleep through the fu€king night for once in my life!
Instead, I was getting 2-3 hours of sleep per night.
Needless to say, I was a bundle of joy to be around.
As in one morning after one of these sleepless nights, my poor husband worked up the bravery to mention that I seem a little irritated (after I had been shooting him an endless stream of death stares, for what reason I can’t remember. Possibly something to do with the lid of a jar peanut butter having peanut butter on it). To which I wailed at the injustice of telling me of such horrid things about myself before I even had a chance to drink my coffee!
After a week of less than 3 hours of sleep a night, I started to notice I had become completely unable to be the the mom, wife, person, in-line skater or anything else I want to be. I was a zombie who, despite the fact a hunk of Swiss cheese had replaced my brain, was still able to perform simple domestic tasks albeit with questionable reliability and therefore ineligible for the psyche ward.
I had to get to the bottom of this, and after some extensive middle-of-the night internet research, I came up with a list of the possible culprits for my insomnia:
check that twice biotches!
are you kidding me!
Thinking too much
Thus, for a few days I was convinced I was clinically depressed and/or going through late-onset postpartum depression.
But somehow in my cottage-cheesed mind I was able to put it together that anyone who hadn’t slept a good night’s sleep for over two years due to pregnancy and night time nursing and was now almost completely unable to sleep would possibly feel slightly down in the dumps.
I started looking for correlations between night-weaning and insomnia and found a whole website dedicated to moms and their war-stories about the hormonal hell they went through after weaning.
Finally, I sat down, folded my hands in my lap and squeezed my eyes shut really tight until I was able to complete this thought:
For almost two years my sleep pattern involved getting up 2-3 times a night to nurse, each time causing oxytocin (love hormone) and relaxin (hormone that makes your ligaments and tendons all relaxed) to surge through my body and conveniently drug me back to sleep.
Essentially, it was like someone screaming in my face every few hours throughout the night then, as a consolation, handing me a Benadryl martini rimmed with crushed Ambient and Roofies to sip on.
How could I expect that in the course of a week in which I night weaned, all these sleep habits and hormone fluctuations would magically return back to the pre-baby days giving me 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night?
Oh yeah, because I had no idea it could be any different because no one tells you this shit.
Probably to ensure the continuation of the species, there is no pamphlet in any OBGYN office next to the “Breast is Best” paraphernalia outlining the crap shoot of hormones you will be at the mercy of during your tenure as a nursing mother.
If only I had been notified with a simple Superbowl commercial and given a ribbon to pin on my lapel reminding me that I needed to be extra careful after weaning so my hormones would have a chance to adjust.
For the sake of other clueless moms like me out there I hope one day weaning will have its own month (whatever month your town experiences the dead of winter) and color (black).
And I’m no marketing genius, but I was breastfed so I’m probably some sort of genius. But I think instead of the slogan “Breast is Best”, a better catch phrase might go something like, “Breastfeeding…WTF!!!!!”
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